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Fatty Acid Found in Palm Oil Linked to Spread of Cancer

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The Guardian: Fatty Acid Found in Palm Oil Linked to Spread of Cancer

NATURE: Dietary palmitic acid promotes a prometastatic memory via Schwann cells

The study (on mice) found that palmitic acid promoted metastasis in mouth and skin cancers. “There is something very special about palmitic acid that makes it an extremely potent promoter of metastasis.”

Some tumour cells have the capacity to spread via palmitic acid (in palm oil, butter and olive oil). Other fatty acids did not show the same effect (oleic/linoleic acid, ie: omega-9 and omega-6).

Cancer cells exposed to palmitic acid consume fatty acids more efficiently, entering a “regenerative state” forming signalling networks beyond the tumour (a crucial step towards spreading). Metastasis of cancer remains the main cause of death in cancer patients and the vast majority of people with metastatic cancer can only be treated, but not cured.

“This is a rigorous and comprehensive study that suggests that exposure to a major constituent of palm oil durably changes the behaviour of cancer cells, making them more prone to progress from local to potentially lethal metastatic disease. Given the prevalence of palm oil as an ingredient in processed foods, this study provides strong motivation for further study on how dietary choices influence the risk of tumour progression.”